63-goal Ronaldo confident

Cristiano Ronaldo (Supplied)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Supplied)

Madrid - Cristiano Ronaldo, never short on self-confidence, is fairly sure of retaining the FIFA Ballon d'Or award on Monday, after a memorable 2014 in which he scored 63 goals for Real Madrid and Portugal in all competitions.

His rivals for the coveted award are old adversary Lionel Messi of Barcelona and Argentina - the winner in 2010, 2011 and 2012 - and Germany and Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

Ronaldo, who is 30 in February, has not said much about the award recently. However, he did raise eyebrows a few months ago by saying: "In my head, I think I am the best player in the world."

Statements over the years - in 2011 he infamously said "some people jeer me because I am rich, handsome and a great player" - have led to Ronaldo being considered arrogant in some quarters.

The fact that he is the first player ever to have a museum dedicated to himself, on his home island of Madeira complete with a massive statue,-has confirmed this negative impression for many people.

Not that Ronaldo is very worried about his critics, after a remarkable year in which he guided Real to four major trophies: the Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup, the Club World Cup and the Spanish cup.

Ronaldo's goals record in these triumphs was nothing short of astonishing. He banged in 17 goals in the Champions League, then scored both goals in Real's 2-0 defeat of Sevilla for the UEFA Super Cup in August.

He was top scorer in La Liga last season with 31 goals, and is currently way ahead atop the scorers' chart with 26, a tally which puts him on course to beat Messi's record of 50 goals in 2012.

However, Ronaldo's critics point to the fact that he again failed to shine on the most important stage of all: the World Cup finals.

He scored only one goal at the tournament, the same as in 2010, and failed to guide Portugal beyond the first round, while Messi's Argentina reached the final and Neuer's Germany won the trophy.

Nonetheless, 2014 was an excellent year for him, and this is why he is considered favourite to win the Ballon d'Or in Zurich on Monday.

"Not everybody likes Ronaldo, it has to be said," commented Radio Marca recently.

"But what cannot be denied is that he is the best footballer in the world at the moment, even though the World Cup was not a success for him and Portugal."

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